BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Zeta weakened as it moved over the Yucatan Peninsula Tuesday morning, but that weakening is only temporary
During a news conference held Tuesday, Oct. 27, Governor John Bel Edwards urged residents of south Louisiana to take the threat of Zeta seriously.
As Zeta moves through the southern Gulf of Mexico, it will strengthen once again. Zeta is forecast to be a strong Category 1 hurricane as it steadily moves through the Gulf of Mexico. Zeta will be rounding the outer edge of a ridge of high pressure Tuesday into early Wednesday, keeping it on a northwest trajectory.
The New Orleans area will feel most of the impacts from Zeta, according to Gov. Edwards. The governor says one positive note of Zeta’s forecast is it’s expected to move very fast for a hurricane and a will likely be moving above 20 mph when it makes landfall.
Gov. Edwards says Zeta’s speed should reduce the rainfall totals that usually occur during a hurricane. The governor also urged residents to use generators and space heaters safely if they lose power.
Gov. Edwards said he requested a pre-landfall federal declaration of emergency ahead of Hurricane Zeta in a letter to President Donald Trump Tuesday. The governor declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm Monday, Oct. 26. The president approved the disaster declaration request Tuesday night.
An approaching trough and cold front will start to deflect Zeta in a northeast direction keeping metro Baton Rouge on the west (weaker) side of the circulation. Landfall is forecast to occur in extreme southeast Louisiana late Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday evening. Significant impacts (wind, rain-flood, surge, tornadoes) are likely to occur along extreme southeast Louisiana.
While significant impacts will stay closer to and east of the center of Zeta, the WAFB viewing area will still see localized impacts.
Outer rain bands will begin to impact the local area later today and continue off and on through the day Wednesday. These outer bands will be capable of producing strong gusty winds and occasional heavy downpours. Rainfall amounts should be manageable for most with many picking up less than 1″ of rain. A few localized spots could see higher amounts of 2-3″. Widespread totals of 4-6″ will be possible nearer New Orleans.
Storm surge of 4-6 feet remains possible from Port Fourchon east to Dauphin Island, AL. Lake Pontchartrain could see a peak surge of 2-4 feet. Surge within Lake Maurepas will be minimal, but areas near the lower reaches of the Amite and Tickfaw Rivers can expect to see some climb in water levels.
The strongest winds will remain closer to the center of Zeta’s circulation. Tropical Storm force wind gusts remain possible for a portion of the WAFB viewing area. The strongest gusts will still have the potential of causing sporadic power outages.
A cold front will pass through the local area during the predawn hours Thursday. This front will bring cooler and drier weather through the Halloween weekend.
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